I wrote my column this week from our comfy motel suite in Boardman, Ore., on the Columbia River. My sister and brother-in-law, Barbara and Dwight, are across I-84 in a beautiful RV park, situated next to the Boardman Marina and one of the prettiest city parks that I’ve ever seen.
Several years ago, we had our own RV and discovered this beautiful park with B.J. and Dwight when we spent two nights here on the way to a vacation at the Wallowa Lake State Park. Prior to that, Boardman was an unimpressive town along I-84 that we passed almost every year for 10 years straight on our way to the OSAA 2A Girls Basketball Tournament in Pendleton to watch the Crow Cougars play.
Our daughters Gloria, Michele, and Kelly were on those teams during that time, and the trek to Pendleton each year was not only a family tradition, but one that was well-attended by many Crow High School fans. I can’t help but mention here that Gloria still holds the all-time 2A rebounding record of 26 rebounds in one tournament game against Joseph High School in 1983 ... that’s another story in itself.
Anyway, jumping back to the present, we were pleasantly surprised to learn about the hidden gem in Boardman. The RV park is about 20 acres of beautiful green lawns on the banks of the Columbia. As we watch barges plying their ways to ports both east and west, we try to imagine the conditions and wonder experienced by the Lewis and Clark Expedition that traveled through here almost 220 years before.
Right next door is a marina with boat slips and ramps. As we walked there last week during mornings with our dogs in 95-degree heat, we passed a giant board where entrants and results of the annual Boardman Fishing Derby are recorded. Walking past the marina, we saw many more acres of beautifully manicured lawns on which we could see a children’s playground; a shaded area of championship-quality horseshoe pits; a well-maintained baseball field; and a lovely white gazebo sitting next to a panorama of the river and the Washington shore in the background where, I’m sure, many weddings have taken place.
Fishermen, with poles in hand, walked the black-topped paths to find their favorite fishing beaches. There’s a swimming hole in one area for those who want to swim in the calm, sheltered portion of the river and, best of all, in a large inlet, is a huge, roped-off wading area for children and dogs on leashes.
Above the wading pool, my eye kept wandering to the big, sturdy, adult-sized swing set sitting by itself on the green lawn. Memories of my childhood kept pulling at me ... finally, I gave in and made my way to them. I handed Toby’s leash to Jim, who came on our “walk” with us on his electric scooter, and picked out one of the swings that I could mount. Once seated, I was pleasantly surprised that the worn trench in the lawn beneath the swing kept my feet from dragging, and I began to pump and soar ... just as I remembered doing throughout my childhood.
As I pumped higher and higher, the memories flooded in. I was a child once again. The wind through my hair was so familiar, as were the movements to keep myself airborne, and I felt the same sensations I did just before when, as a child, I prepared to bale out. This time, however, I knew that there would be no tumble to end my ride. Instead, I stopped pumping and allowed the swing to come to a gentle stop.
As I dismounted, I reluctantly left my childhood behind, once again, but I will always remember that flight as the highlight of this particular trip.
We headed home on Thursday, June 3. We celebrated Dwight’s birthday and took one more walk to the marina before the temperature got unbearable. It reached 103 degrees Wednesday afternoon, but I understand it was in the 90s at home, too. Hopefully, when we reach home after the long drive the weather will have tempered a bit and we can return to what will always be for us, “Home Sweet Home.”